4A Title Game Comments

By now, you've already read the game summary in the newspaper or online so here are some insights from Saturday night's unbelievable game...

By now, you've already read the game summary in the newspaper or online so here are some insights from Saturday night's unbelievable game.

$$ I suppose the best way to describe the last couple weeks of the 4A boy's high school basketball season would be to compare it with the weather.

McClintock, being the pre-season and season long #1 ranked team, was always in the direct path of Mother Nature and the Chargers endured a series of tough storms.

McClintock was a fortress of strength engineered to withstand the fiercest weather fronts.  They had the speed, strength, and athleticism to seemingly escape almost any kind of meteorological conditions.

‘Tock had a stretch of very tough opponents down the season's stretch in Greenway, Sunnyslope, Independence, and Shadow Mountain who took their best shots at the Chargers.  The enemy brought tornado like winds, gully-washing downpours, unbearable heat, and frigid ice storms but McClintock survived them all.

It finally became very apparent it would take only a perfect storm to wash the Chargers away from a state championship.

Saturday night, without warning from the National Weather Service, the "Perfect Storm" did arrive over downtown Phoenix.  It came out of nowhere and blew away the Chargers' dream.

$$ The 4A title game was a war of wills and the Sabercats prevailed.

One ‘Cat stood out big time.  Saguaro would've never won the game had it not been for C.J. Venezia's 4th period superman performance.  Venezia went toe-to-toe with Jermaine Calvin in a two-minute scoring fest that will certainly go down as one of the most exciting in championship game history.

Charger star forward Gabe Freeman had been hogtied by Saguaro's defense and Calvin decided he had to take control.  Calvin knew his team needed points and needed them fast to steal the momentum, as McClintock has repeatedly been known to do.

In the past seven games I've watched McClintock, either Calvin or Freeman would step up and take control of the game.  No team or player has been able to answer these uprisings, until last night.

What Venezia did was nothing short of superhuman.  His will to win reverberated throughout the vast arena and you could feel the energy to your core.  It was a feeling I'll never forget.

Venezia's determination and acrobatic drives to the bucket were amazing beyond all description.  That two-minute effort has instantly thrust him on to the stage with all the other AZ elite point guards.

$$ Conspicuously absent from the Charger's lineup the last two games was Leonard Lighten. The swingman had been a season long starter for ‘Tock and allowed for the team to use its depth in a very advantageous way.

With Lighten absent, McClintock was forced to start Terrance Cobb, a player significantly shorter than Lighten.

This eventually filtered on down to where Rudy Fleming, a football player, was on the floor in the final minute and ended up missing a flat-footed,
8-foot shot from the left baseline at 36 seconds.  A made shot would've given the Chargers a one-point lead.

Does anyone know where Lighten went?

$$  Saguaro's big three of Danny O'Boyle, Justin Ashbaugh, and Derek Tarapacki have felt the pain of losing at America West before and so were sentimental favorites in my mind.  I wanted to see them do well and they rewarded.

All hit numerous clutch buckets over the championship weekend and showed such tremendous senior leadership they'll never be forgotten by the Sabercat nation.

Ashbaugh's dunk at the end of the game punctuated a spectacular end to their high school careers.

$$  Even though James Watson, A.J. Beban, and Dax Sikes didn't show up big in the box score, they played very significant roles in the Sabercat win.  Watson is only a sophomore so he gets another crack at a title.  Beban and Sikes are seniors and go out proud.

$$  I don't know if I really believe in ghosts or not, but McClintock is surely jinxed.  I surmise this curse has arisen from the alleged recruiting and transfer improprieties that originated in the early 80's at McClintock.

If the Charger athletic department didn't actually recruit, then they certainly encouraged and fostered a welcome environment for transferring star athletes.

Many a big name player has found a home in Charger Land over the years, outside his natural school boundaries.  This is no secret.

Since this practice was instituted, the Chargers have failed to win a championship of any magnitude.  In recent years, early playoff exits became the norm, even though ‘Tock had superior talent.

That's why I knew McClintock wouldn't win the championship this season either.  I've been following the team the past three weeks waiting for the meltdown.

Brian Fleming did an outstanding job this season as coach.  His players played hard for him.

But I compare the Charger team to the Chicago Cubs.  No amount of outstanding players or great coaches can overcome ghosts or evil spirits.  Once you're jinxed, you're jinxed.

If ghosts do exist, then the "Ghosts of Tockdom" waited until the cruelest moment to appear this season, right at the end of the championship game.  It's also no coincidence that today is February 29th, a leap year………..and a favorite day for evil spirits to celebrate.

McClintock       9   13   16   16  -- 54
Saguaro         14   15   12   21  -- 62

SAGUARO - C.J. Venezio 18, Justin Ashbaugh 18, Justin O'Boyle 13, James Watson 5, Derek Tarapacki 4, A.J. Beban 2, Dax Sikes 2
MCCLINTOCK - Jermaine Calvin 21, Gabe Freeman 19, Marcus Nicholson 8, Rudy Fleming 3, Javier Estrada 2, Terrance Cobb 1

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